Thursday, June 29, 2006

29 June 2006: Change

Despite the excitement of creating SPARQL-based web services and wondering why it is that SPARQL doesn't have such features as 'count' or even 'like' when doing a select statement, instead forcing me down a filter-by-regular-expression route (who was it who said a camel is just a horse designed by a committee?) (thanks for the suitable description, unnamed academic) and despite the genuine relief at being able to write up most of the work into something that is starting to look like a coherent thesis, there remain a few things happening out in the world that are sufficiently interesting to note here.

First the lack of surprise that Tony Pulis didn't last at Plymouth Argyle: the mighty manager was, after all, just using the Greens as a stepping-stone back to Stoke, where he remains amazingly unpopular with the fans. New manager, appointed yesterday, is Ian Holloway (second only to Gordon Strachan when it comes to bizarre interviews: 'I couldn't be more chuffed if I were a badger at the start of the mating season' after a one-nil win over Cardiff) and I think generally the fans are approving and appreciative of this move. Whether it works, or whether the normal Argyle cycle resumes of a few years struggling in Division Two (sorry, 'The Coca Cola Championship') before inevitable relegation, I don't know. But it means Argyle fans are in for a far more entertaining season, and who knows: maybe the flair players like Akos and Bojan are in for a good year (ie they may get a few games). A positive feeling from Home Park. Especially as Olly will bring in his own backroom team, meaning, among others, Mr Kemp will be leaving Home Park again.

Compare and contrast with St Mary's, where civil war has been in effect for several weeks now. Ever since Michael Wilde called the EGM to oust Rupert Lowe (date finally set for this coming Monday, July 3rd) there has been a PR battle between the protagonists and even between the fans, ongoing and ongoing and ongoing. The Official Site has posted propaganda pieces from anyone they can get to say 'Rupert Lowe is a nice man' (such as the tea lady and former Saints flop Augustin Delgado) and sacking people who won't (such as physio Jim Joyce and youth director Malcolm Elias). Occasionally, factual inaccuracies in these articles have led to retractions and rewrites, but generally the official Southampton FC website has had less to do with football than my thesis for several weeks now. Meantime SaintsForever has largely become WildeForever and the latest tension ("which side will 10% shareholder Leon Crouch vote for?") has only just been resolved (he's backing Wilde, which may be enough to take Wilde over the finish line). One question that keeps being asked of the fans: whichever side wins, will you back the winner? The answer is, if it is Lowe, no: the reason is that this is not a democracy, not one-fan-one-vote, instead it's a shareholder vote. If the shareholders back Lowe (and they might - large institutional share-holding companies tend not to vote for change, and there are a good 35% of shares held in such a way) then why should the fans (who are at least 90% anti-Lowe, which doesn't necessarily mean pro-Wilde, but does in most cases) back the choice of the market? The biggest problem is the drawn-out timescale: the players are already back in pre-season training and the EGM is still rumbling on. Rupert has lied and spun his way along for nine years, the last three particularly badly, but maybe it looks as if Monday will be his last day in the job.

Interestingly, last night there was a fans forum. Read the official version here and the fans views here. Rupert's last fling at such an event? I certainly hope so.

Elsewhere, the Atlanta Braves have collapsed in a series of shocking losses such that their record of fourteen consecutive division titles will not be extended any further (sad, but it had to happen sometime, and putting the team up for sale probably didn't help), Sven thinks England are playing really well and his methods are above question, Inkdroid seems to like my JCDL paper, the weather's superb, my newest nephew is getting Christened on Sunday and, from our Australian desk, sad news that drug-busting wasps aren't quite ready to replace sniffer-dogs just yet.

Still, can't have everything changing all at once, can we?

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